The latest development in the long-running dispute between the Trump administration and Bytedance’s TikTok has tipped the balance towards the Chinese company, as another U.S district court judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Trump administration’s order which would have effectively banned TikTok’s U.S operations.
This makes U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols the second federal judge to rule against Trump administration’s effort to ban TikTok in U.S. The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by TikTok’s parent Bytedance against President Donald Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department.
The first federal judge to rule against Trump’s executive order to ban the transactions between U.S companies and Bytedance was the U.S District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone. She issued a similar injunction in a lawsuit filed by three TikTok creators, which prevented TikTok from getting banned on Nov 12.
Judge Nichols in the latest ruling said that the government “likely exceeded IEEPA’s express limitations as part of an agency action that was arbitrary and capricious.” IEEPA or the International Emergency Economic Powers Act was cited in Trump’s executive order, along with National Emergencies Act.
In another aspect of the order against TikTok, the U.S Treasury recently extended the deadline which required the Chinese company to sell its TikTok U.S operations in order to remain functional in the country. The deadline was extended to Dec 4, but no extensions have been granted since then. The Chinese company is reluctant to sell its U.S operations, and Bytedance even filed a petition in the Federal Appeals Court seeking to vacate the order in November.
It appears that this dispute is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, as both sides refuse to concede defeat. TikTok strongly maintains its stance against the order, denying any national security threat allegations—which are central part of the government’s executive order. Trump’s administration, on the other hand, while it has complied to the injunctions issued by the courts, has made it clear that it will continue its efforts to ban the app from the country.
The U.S government’s intention to carry out what it initially started is apparent in its actions. In November, the government appealed against Judge Beetlestone’s ruling which effectively stopped the ban from taking place. And according to a statement by a U.S. Commerce Department spokesperson, the Trump administration intends to “vigorously defend” the executive order.